In the middle of the birth of a new nation, I have been meditating a lot on the story of Hosea.
The nation of Southern Sudan has parts of it that are steeped in Christian religion, but that could not be farther from knowing Jesus. Last Sunday I preached at a church here in town and asked them, “How many of you know who Salva Kir is?” (He is the current president of the South.) Every hand went up. “How many of you know him well enough to have his personal phone number and invite him over to tea?” No one.
In church it is easy to think because we know who Jesus is, this is enough. But there is a world of difference between knowing who someone is and having intimate friendship with them! I thus made my point.
So as this nation prepares to become its own free state, the state of the Bride within has increasingly been on my heart. And again the refrain echoes. Referendum is not enough, we must have revival.
Hosea’s story keeps coming back to me. Hosea, whose name means salvation, pursued a prostitute bride named Gomer, whose name means failure. He married her as one of the greatest sacrificial prophetic acts recorded in Scripture. Salvation pursued and married failure, a prostitute who ran after other loves in a picture of God’s heart pursuing His people, a nation when they were at their lowest and farthest from Him. Hosea is a short book and well worth reading if you are unfamiliar with it.
I am friends with women who are prostitutes. My heart breaks for them. Most of them are there because of terrible circumstances and NONE of them enjoy their work. Their beautiful hearts are hungry and desperate for genuine love. As I hear their stories and journeys, I cannot help but think of the church here selling out so often to tradition and man made religious ceremony, pursuing prestige, position and power to fill the hole in their hearts. A beauty that can be bought and sold is a cheap thing at best. But beauty from within is eternal. And all the while Jesus is in relentless pursuit of the ones here He gave everything for.
Gomer’s story is the story of the wayward, prostitute bride, who in even in her brokenness and rebellion still has captured the heart of Jesus. We all have had times or parts of our hearts that have run after other loves. I know I sure have. And God’s love has run after me farther and faster than I could run after them. I am so grateful for His pursuit of me and His incredible kindness.
Spiritual prostitution is closely paralleled with an orphan spirit. “I will go after my other lovers who meet my wants and needs.” “I have to meet my needs,because no one else will.” is the cry of an orphan heart. So what does God do? He comes and hedges us in with love, allowing us the freedom to pursue what we think we need but not overtake, seek and not find until all the wages and perks of our false loves are destroyed.
There He leads and guides us out into a wilderness encounter where restoration is possible. In the wilderness where all props are stripped away, we find intimacy and fruitfulness restored. Here, the valley of trouble becomes a door of hope and intimacy becomes a relational reality not a product of servant obedience. He removes the false loves from our conversation and our hearts. War is abolished from the land and creation lies down in safety. We, His bride, are betrothed to Him forever in righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and compassion.
This is my prayer for this new nation being born. That the Bride of Jesus here would truly be prepared, washed clean, made whole and the spirit of prostitution and religious bondage would forever be removed from her, burned up in the fire of His love.
Truly we are in a season of Hosea’s pursuit, where Salvation is pursuing the last, the least and the lost in this place and revival is close at hand. Please continue to pray for us as we love those that persecute us and as we pursue the ones that He is pursuing.